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Seasides and Seafood

Travelers love waterfront destinations where they can enjoy an expertly prepared fresh catch. Whether it’s a small seaside town or a bustling city, visitors can find exquisite seafood that’s made with care and perfectly seasoned. Here are eight signature specialties groups will gobble up.


Lynnhaven Oysters

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Large, salty and delicious, Lynnhaven oysters are dear to locals of Virginia Beach, Virginia. One of the first oysters eaten by colonists in the early 1600s, this shellfish has been making a comeback as a coveted delicacy. Many people enjoy Lynnhavens, slurping them as soon as they’re pulled from the river. And if guests are interested in learning more about the harvesting process, oyster farmer Captain Chris Ludford, who owns Pleasure House Oysters, takes small groups out on his boat for a behind-the-scenes look at growing and farming oysters, as well as the history of the Lynnhaven River.

Lynnhaven oysters on the half shell served with lemon are on the menus of several restaurants that welcome groups such as Terrapin, Zoe’s Steak and Seafood located on the Virginia Beach oceanfront, and Commune, a sustainable eatery.

Alaska Crab

Juneau, Alaska

Because Alaska’s state constitution bans fish farming, visitors can enjoy fresh, wild and sustainable seafood, including the area’s most popular catch, Alaska crab. Whether it’s the sweet and meaty king, rich-tasting tanner, delicate snow or the local favorite, Dungeness crab, these tasty shellfish are usually steamed and served with lemon and butter.

Alaska crab can be found throughout Juneau. One popular spot to find it is Hangar on the Wharf, a mainstay for 27 years that features more than 125 kinds of beer including locally brewed options. Twisted Fish Company Alaskan Grill offers casual fine dining on the water, while Tracy’s King Crab Shack has two locations plus a memorable tag line: “Best legs in town.”

Juneau Food Tours can accommodate groups of four to 400 wanting to learn more about the area and the importance of the seafood industry to the community. It offers several culinary experiences, from walking food tours to private dining experiences. Other seafood-related excursions here include sportfishing and a visit to the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery to learn more about the life cycle of Pacific salmon while watching them fight their way up the fish ladder.

Red Snapper

Orange Beach, Alabama

Orange Beach, Alabama, is known as the red snapper capital of the world thanks to its thriving Gulf Coast marine ecosystem and the largest artificial reef program in the country. While catching and keeping this famous fish is only permitted during snapper season — from late May until quotas are reached — its sweet, mild, almost-nutty flavor makes it a coveted menu staple.

Usually served grilled, blackened or paired with a beurre blanc or Cajun cream sauce, red snapper can be enjoyed at Big Fish Restaurant and Bar and Zeke’s Restaurant. Take your group charter fishing along Alabama’s beaches. Many local restaurants will cook your catch, including Luna’s Eat and Drink, Cobalt Restaurant and Tacky Jacks. Pair snapper with the destination’s specialty frozen cocktail, the Bushwacker, a chocolatey concoction.


Greater Boston area

In addition to lobster and clams, Boston’s North Shore is known for its delectable scallops. Chefs love working with this versatile seafood, which can be fried, grilled, poached or pan-seared.

Group-friendly eateries with complimentary on-site bus parking and mouth-watering local scallops include Woodman’s of Essex, which has lovely views of the Salt Marsh and Essex River, the harborfront Seaport Grille in Gloucester — birthplace of the U.S. fishing industry — Tavern on the Wharf in historic Plymouth, and Mile Marker One at the Cape Ann Marina, which also offers marina tours and meet-and-greets with the chef or harbor master.

Regional seafood-themed activities range from taking a Cape Ann Foodie Tour, going on the Essex River Cruise, Whale Watching or visiting Maritime Gloucester’s campus to explore the Maritime Science Education Center or Gorton’s Seafoods Gallery.

Crab Cakes

Washington, D.C.

Thanks to its proximity to Chesapeake Bay, Washington, D.C. offers visitors everything from rockfish to oysters, but crabcakes have become a foodie favorite. Made with lump crab meat from the Chesapeake Blue Crab, crabcakes are topped with poached eggs and hollandaise for breakfast, served on a bun for lunch, or lightly sauteed or broiled and drizzled with lemon sauce for dinner. They are often sprinkled with Old Bay seasoning, which comes from nearby Baltimore. 

Restaurants that serve crab cakes include Clyde’s, Hank’s Oyster Bar, Blue Duck Tavern and the historic Martin’s Tavern in Georgetown — their crab cakes were reportedly a favorite of former President John F. Kennedy, who proposed to his wife Jackie in one of the restaurant’s booths.

Groups of four up to 60 can take the Wharf Food Tour that covers the Municipal Fish Market at The Wharf. Opened in 1805, it’s the oldest continually operating open-air fish market in the United States.


Honolulu, Hawaii

Honolulu’s seafood culinary landscape blends island-grown ingredients with global influences. Fresh sashimi — thin slices of highest-quality raw fish — from the Pacific Ocean  is served in poke bowls or on top of sushi rice and is one of several signature dishes in this region.

Visitors can sample sashimi dishes at Sansei Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar, Mitch’s Fish Market and Sushi Bar, and Doraku Sushi. Groups can participate in a variety of cooking classes led by professional chefs using local ingredients. Hawaiian Style Cooking Class covers everything from how to create a fresh poke bowl to making sushi, while Hey Yuko’s Sushi Lesson allows guests to learn the history of sushi, how to work with raw fish and even a few Japanese phrases.


New Orleans, Louisiana

Louisiana crawfish are a staple in every Cajun household, where they are boiled in large quantities to share with family and friends. They look like miniature lobsters and are only in season from December through June.

James Simon, owner of Mais La Seafood, adds sweet potatoes in his boil just as his father did. Corn, sausage and potatoes are the most common side dishes alongside crawfish, but some chefs serve garlic, onions, mushrooms and even pineapple.

Doctor Gumbo Tours, owned by ninth generation Louisianian Dylan O’Donnell, offers two food-related walking tours for up to 16 people at a time: the Food History Tour, where guests sample nine different dishes while learning about Louisiana’s culinary history, and the Combo Cocktail and Food History Tour, which also includes four New Orleans cocktails.

Groups of 10 to 200 can also take classes at the New Orleans School of Cooking to learn how to prepare New Orleans crawfish dishes.

Fish Tacos

San Diego, California

Beer-battered and deep fried, San Diego’s classic fish taco has become a beloved tradition. A staple of food trucks and sit-down restaurants, this Mexican-style seafood dish can be enjoyed across the city. Puesto, known for its Cali-Baja tacos, is owned by first-generation Mexican Americans who incorporated their family recipe for battered cod on a blue corn tortilla. Other popular spots where groups can eat fish tacos include Oscar’s Mexican Seafood, the Fish Shop, Lola 55 and City Tacos.

Can’t decide on just one restaurant? Chow down at several on a food tour. Taco Tour San Diego stops at three locations for a guided historical lunch or sunset tour with craft beer. Sample authentic Mexican cuisine on the Taco and Tequila Tour through Old Town. The Tequila, Tacos and Tombstones Tour dishes out supernatural tales in a few haunted locations in addition to fish tacos and elevated cocktails. Don’t miss the Maritime Museum to learn about the city’s fishing and seafood history.